There's nothing like a good row

Some of the arguments we've been having online and introducing our new blogger

It’s always compelling watching other people having a bit of a spat and I’d like to flag up two examples from newstatesman.com this week.

One was the argument sparked by Tahmima Anam’s article on Bangladesh. Some attacked her for belittling her country when she now lives in the UK, others jumped in to defend her right to speak out.

One critic wrote: "Since she appears so enamoured of the comforts of Britain it is better you stay there. Fighting for your country is hard work but soiling those precious manicured hands does not seem to appeal to Tahmima."

I say!

Fortunately plenty of other comments defended Tahmima’s right to hold an opinion. For example: "I find some of the comments here quite appalling … as soon as anyone writes anything against the politicians, the author is automatically branded as unpatriotic."

Elsewhere, Bristol student union president Ben Ullman’s view Campus Radicals that higher education shouldn’t be free provoked quite a bit of comment. People posted from universities up and down the country – some of the students clearly putting quite a lot of time into expressing their arguments. This is a continuing debate and it’s interesting to hear the current generation of students talking about these issues.

Anyone out there in favour of raising the upper rate of taxation, scrapping the national curriculum, bringing back O-levels, reintroducing grants and getting rid of the poll tax?

Can’t pay, won’t pay! Oh, how it takes me back.

Moving swiftly on, next week we’re launching a new blog. Remember the story a few days back about an American family securing one of two rarely available cottages on Fair Isle? Well, the people who got the other one were a young Scottish couple. The male half, Malachy Tallach, is a journalist and singer song-writer …

He emailed me the other day and suggested he write us a column. Good idea, I said rubbing my hands and thinking of some of the scenes in the Wickerman.

Well, he’s sent in his first entry and it’s a great read - the story of remote place with a population of around 70, many of them crofters.

So look out for it next week and learn what Malachy’s life on this Scottish island is like. Though so far, alas, it doesn't seem to have much in common with the celebrated movie...